MURRIETA -- There's only so much friends can do.
The Murrieta Library Advisory Commission is in the preliminary steps of creating a library foundation, which would act as a nonprofit grant-writing and fund-seeking group to augment the Friends of the Murrieta Library.
The commissioners recently reviewed a draft of the proposed foundation's bylaws, which must be completed as part of the process of qualifying for not-for-profit 501(c)3 status.
If approved, the foundation would primarily focus on securing large donations and grants. Currently, the library receives small donations made to the Friends group that are invested in CDs, where they generate interest income. In March, a matured CD netted $10,830 for the library.
"In these economic times, the budget is probably not going to be able to stretch," Commissioner Juanita Blankenship said recently. "So, we're hoping to augment some of the things we want to do."
The library's current budget is more than $2 million, said Director of Library Service Loretta McKinney. Most of that budget -- about 80 percent, she estimated -- is funded through Riverside County property taxes captured for that specific purpose.
The library also receives money from fines collected when people return their books late and from fees collected for passport photos. From July 2007 to March 2008, the city received $33,604 from collected fines and $50,360 from passport fees, city figures show.
But that money won't pay for special programs, such as literary groups and discussions held by noted authors. A foundation would bring in the money needed for those types of programs, McKinney said.
"The Friends of the Library aren't prepared to write for grants of that nature," McKinney said of the group that runs fundraising bookstores in two locations in the city.
The foundation also would be able to accept contributions from donors who are looking to give more than the standard $100 to $1,000, but are hesitant to give more money to a government agency, McKinney said.
Many steps still stand in the way of the foundation's start, including a review by the advisory commission and approval from the City Council. If established, a board would be selected from community leaders who have expertise in seeking money, McKinney said.
With the creation of yet a third body involved in library issues, McKinney said there would be little, if any, toe-stubbing because each body -- the Friends, commission and foundation -- would have a different purpose. The Friends raise money through the bookstores, the commission oversees library policy and the foundation board would
The foundation could be vital if the city continues to expand. Councilman Gary Thomasian said the city may need to consider building a second library on the east side of the city for residents who may find it too burdensome to travel across the city's congested roads.
"To put all your facilities into one geographic location makes it tough for people who live further away to get to that center part of town," Thomasian said of the library's location in the Town Center plaza. "The library is a valuable asset, but one library for over 100,000 (people) may not be enough."